Monday, September 7, 2020

Annotating With the Fabulous Five

Active readers annotate!  

Although it may seem like the strategy du jour, annotation is not new, as seen in the parchment page gloss below:

Historically speaking, glosses were originally notes made in the margin or between the lines of a text to help the reader understand the meaning of a word or passage.  

We ask students to do the same thing today.  All good, right?  Yes, unless students are burdened with so many annotation marks and symbols they lose sight of the text's content, which I have seen (and most likely done) first hand.

There are as many ways to annotate as there are readers and of course, teachers.  There is not one right way to teach annotation.  However, having attended many professional development sessions and read the latest pedagogical tomes on annotating, I had to come up with my own easy-to-remember, meaningful symbols that worked for interacting with any text - fiction and nonfiction.  

Hence the Fabulous Five:

The Fab Five annotation marks are grounded in four seminal reading skills of adroit readers who attack complex texts: 

  • Questioning
  • Identifying key ideas and overarching themes 
  • Accessing content vocabulary
  • Making connections  

It is my hope the Fabulous Five help support both students and teachers as they continue teach annotation as a formative close reading skill and best practice.  

Need more evidence?  Text annotation allows the reader to...

  • Interact with the text, bringing their own ideas, questions, and interpretations.
  • Increase comprehension and retention.
  • Keep track of key ideas, questions, connections, and predictions
  • Help formulate thoughts and questions for deeper understanding
  • Foster analyzing and interpreting skills
  • Make inferences and draw conclusions about the text
  • Easily refer back to the text without rereading the text in its entirety

Happy Reading and Annotating, y'all! 

Need some Fabulous Five Annotation Products?  Check out my Fabulous Five Annotation Bundle for everything your students need. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere - A Perfect YA Read

My book club just read Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere.  To say it was a hit would be an understatement.

The nostalgia trip 90's novel explores the themes of secrets, identity, motherhood—and the dangerous concept that following the rules can avert disaster - an edict each teenager in the novel must reckon with.  Although I'm sure Ng didn't intend for LFE to be a YA novel, it should certainly have a place on the canonical shelf, especially for the current political climate where little fires everywhere - literal and symbolic - seem to be ubiquitous.  

Little Fires Everywhere - YA Book Club Discussion Questions  

1) Shaker Heights is almost another character in the novel. Would you want to live there?  Why or why not?

2) There are many different kinds of mother-daughter relationships in the novel. Who was the best/worst mother?  Why?  How do mothers mold their children - for better or worse?

3) Was there ever a time you wanted Elena and Mia to be real friends?  If so, when?  

4) Which of the teenagers' lives is most changed by the events of the novel - Trip’s? Moody’s? Izzy’s?  Pearl's?  Who evolved the most?  Who would you want as a best friend?  

5) The debate over the fate of May Ling/Mirabelle is multilayered and complex. Who do you think should raise her?  Why?

6) LFE addresses race and class as overarching themes.  In what ways are attitudes toward race and class different and the same today as in the late 1990s, when the book is set?

8) What does the title mean to you? What other meanings do fire and burning take on in the book?  Are there multiple characters setting little fires everywhere - literal or metaphorical?

9) The teens in the novel often feel more comfortable at the home of another family.  Why is this?  What does it say about mother-teen relationships, especially mother-daughter ones?

10)   Reflect on the ending.  Who changes the most?  What do you think happens to Izzy after the novel ends - along with Lexie, Moody, Trip, and Pearl?

Bonus: Watch the Hulu miniseries adaptation of the novel produced by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.  Simply riveting!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Build Your Stack for the Summer Sizzle

As we all fondly recall, summer vacation is the ultimate - even during a pandemic! Staying up late into the night, basking in the golden sun, slurping up frothy ice cream concoctions, and yes - hopefully reading a good book or two or three...or three in one day. And why not?  It's summer, after all.

Here is my 2020 sizzling summer read picks for tweens and teens.  The list includes classics; diverse voices; prose and verse; and most importantly, a window, mirror, and sliding glass door book for everyone.  Time to indulge in the double scoop of ice cream and get your read on!

Kimberly's 2020 Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens

1) One of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus

2) Lord of the Flies - William Golding

3) The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

4) Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

5) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

6) The 57 Bus - Dashka Slater

7) The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins

8) The Best of Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl

9) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

10) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

11) Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

12) Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

Starting a Distance Learning YA Book Club?
Check out my Book Club Bundle for remote ideas and activities:

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world.

Why should we devote an entire month to honor words written in verse?  Because poetry is the language of the soul.  When life drowns us with its dark moments, poetry throws us a raft – a verbal sanctuary of healing and beauty - especially during this unprecedented time of fear and uncertainty.

So I urge you to release your inner poet and succumb to the sensory language, rhythm, flavor, call and response of poetry.  Feel the human spirit and universality of life's shared stories in a stanza.  Read or write a poem this month.  Restore your spirit.  Restore your soul.

Ten Favorite Poems

  1. “Sick” – Shel Silverstein
  2. “Phenomenal Woman” – Maya Angelou
  3. “Annabel Lee” – Edgar Allan Poe
  4. “Oranges” – Gary Soto
  5. “The Road Not Taken” – Robert Frost
  6. Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare
  7. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” – Robert Herrick
  8. “The Kiss” – Sara Teasdale
  9. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” – Dylan Thomas 
  10. Fragment 31 – Sappho

April Challenge:  Write a Cinquain

A cinquain is five line poem that follows this lyrical pattern:

1) a word for the title
2) two adjectives
3) three verbs
4) a phrase
5) the title again – or synonym


Dark or milk
Smooth, silky, sweet
Best thing ever

Large, mysterious
Watching, rolling, blinking
Tell more than words

Short, sweet
Five, simple steps
Maybe not so easy…

Teaching poetry?
Kick start your poetry unit with my Poetry Jumbo Bundle for everything you need!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Literacy Lockdown!

Last year at this time, I was celebrating Drop Everything and Read Day with kids at Cheekwood!  It was one of those perfect moment days....

This year we're social distancing at home.  And I have to say, I really miss reading to kids, walking the gardens, and celebrating the sights and smells of spring among the tulips, daffodils, and hydrangeas.  

But we can all take this time to press pause and celebrate literacy - and of course Drop Everything and Read.  

Here are a few other reading/writing ideas for a productive Literacy Lockdown:

  • Look up five new words
  • Write a favorite author or post a stellar review
  • Read past your bedtime
  • Write a poem
  • Host a virtual book club
  • Create a character
  • Re-read a favorite children's book
  • Write a diary entry of a favorite character - in voice
  • Make a bookmark
  • Make a video reading a children's book; post on Youtube
  • Play word games 
  • Complete a crossword puzzle
  • Read something that makes you laugh or cry over the phone to a friend or family member
  • Read waaaaay past your bedtime! 

Be well...Be safe...Be neighborly...and always get your read on!


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Valentine's Literary Love Quotes

Need some passion inspo this Valentine's Day?  Whether you're feeling mushy, gushy, or crushy - look no further than a book for a swoon-worthy literary love quote.  

Here are some of my favorites:

"Do I love you? My god, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches." 
—William Goldman, The Princess Bride

"When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun." 
—William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

"You might not have been my first love, but you were the love that made all the other loves irrelevant”
—Rupi Kaur, milk and honey

“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
–Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” —A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

“Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.” 
― Toni Morrison, Jazz

"Love shook my heart
Like the wind on the mountain
rushing over the oak trees." 
— Sappho

"We loved with a love that was more than love." 
—Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee"

“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
—Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

"Who, being loved, is poor?" — Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

"I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins." 
— Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

For more literary love inspiration and classroom activities, check out my Literary Love Quote Task Cards and Valentine's Day Literary Bundle

Love, read, and write with abandon...HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!! 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Janus Words for January

I’m a word nerd.  I love them.  I keep files of cool words and will text myself ones I come across when reading for further reflection.  I’ve been known to look up words in the middle of the night, which means I must dream about them.  Yes – Word NERD!  I love anagrams, puns, and word etymology.  And French words and phrases...don’t get me started!  Nothing is more fun to drop in casual conversation.  Must be a je ne sais quoi thing.

So for January, I thought it would be fun to write about Janus words.  A Janus word is a contronym or a word with two opposite meanings.  Appropriately named after the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two opposite faces, Janus words are spelled the same but function as auto-antonyms.

Ten Examples of Janus Words:

  • Bolt – to secure OR to run away
  • Clip – to separate OR to join
  • Fast – firmly fixed OR moving rapidly
  • Left – to leave OR to remain
  • Oversight – inadvertent mistake OR watchful care
  • Rock – to be firm OR to sway or tilt
  • Sanction – to allow OR to prohibit
  • Screen – to display, such as a film OR to conceal
  • Trip – To dance or skip OR to stumble 
  • Weather – to endure OR to erode

So get two-faced and create some juicy sentences with Janus words.  Or add to the list.  In the interim, reflect on this sentence: “Because of the teacher’s oversight, the students’ behavior was sanctioned.”  This could be interpreted two different ways as a result of the Janus words oversight and sanctioned.  Either way someone ran a tight ship or got off scot-free.  How I loved that latter kind of teacher.    

Ahhh…word play!